Just a random something I came up with today.

It all began on a night like any other. Late evening. Light rain.

I was just preparing to close the office for the night, when the client walked in.

Tall, dark skin, stoic expression, wolf ears. Looks like a martial artist.

Apparently not one for small talk, he slid a photograph across the desk. Probably taken at a family outing. In the center were four girls - a young brunette in a wheelchair, a redheaded child wearing a hat, an attractive blonde in a blouse and skirt, and a serious-looking pink-haired dame in a sweater - and the man standing before me was off to the side like an outsider.

Not one for small talk, he declared, "Two nights ago, detective, my family was murdered."

I feel sorry for his loss, but saying so won't make a difference. "Have you consulted the police?" I ask.

"They directed me to you, explaining that supernatural cases are out of their jurisdiction."

I'm not surprised. It's an eccentric citizen indeed, who'd come to my office with a completely mundane problem.

"Do you have any information that could help my investigation?"

"I saw the murderer herself, in the act. My family was murdered by a magic-user with cybernetic implants."

My fists clenched beneath the oaken desk. Please, let it not be her...

"Long red hair, dressed in white?"

The man's control falters in his surprise. "I take it you've come across her before?"

I ignored the question, and instead asked: "Can you give me any leads on where she may have gone?"

My tone was rather more aggressive than it should have been, perhaps, but he didn't flinch. "We lived in Nerodeus Valley, if that helps."

Grabbing my longcoat from the back of my chair as I got up, I told him not to bother paying for my services unless I came back to him.

Nanoha Takamachi was my beloved mentor. Two years ago, however, she was caught up in an explosion, and horribly injured. Fortunately, medical technology is advanced enough that they were able to save her life via several cybernetic implants.

Even with a robotic arm and half of her face made of cold metal, she was still the most beautiful woman in the world to me.

We worked together for a few months after that, before the curtain of tragedy fell once more. Among the parts of her body that were partially replaced with cybernetics was her brain that, while giving her a perfect memory and the ability to think faster than before, also left her with an unexpected vulnerability.

I still remember it like it was yesterday.

Terrorists had captured us in an anti-magic field, and then incapacitated her with an electromagnetic pulse. I was forced to watch as my mentor, unable to move or even to do anything at all but weep in impotence, was hacked. A virus was introduced into the cybernetic parts of her brain, reprogramming part of her psyche. The most ferocious malware known to computing science, White Devil.

The intent, I would later learn, had been to turn Nanoha into a berserk killing machine - a living weapon, to be pointed at innocent people and fired like a cannon.

It worked a little too well, as she slaughtered every one of the terrorists the minute they gave her power again, flatly saying "Kill... kill kill..." like some kind of mantra.

Just before she could move on to killing me, however, she was able to slightly overcome the mental reprogramming, and fled the scene before she could continue the massacre.

In the time since, I haven't found any indications as to whether she was even still alive or not.

But now I know. All this time, she's been grappling against the virus for control of her own body and mind. And if my guess is right, then it's been a losing battle all along.

It's been two days since I set out for Nerodeus Valley, and at last we've come face to face.

"Are you my mentor, Nanoha... or have you lost to White Devil?"

She offers me a sad smile, and explains, "I'm so glad that you were able to find me, and that we could meet again while I still have some sense of humanity left. But... I'm afraid my time is limited. The only way to get rid of the White Devil is to purge the entire system and start from scratch. That's why I'm afraid I have to ask you... please, kill me before I lose what little control I have left!"

There's no other way. She knows it, and in my heart, I know it too. Taking a rose-colored longsword from the wall of the manor, I finally say what's on my mind. "I... I love you, Nanoha... and I'm sorry."

I'll skewer her through the heart, make it as quick and painless as I can. Rushing as fast as I can, I try to stab her chest with all my might... only for her to stop the blade with her robotic arm.

"You are too late," she flatly explains, as her cybernetic eye glows hellfire red.

Without any visible effort, she strengthens her grip, completely and totally shattering the sword in my hand.

Before I can attempt to leap away, her organic hand snaps forward and closes around my throat.

As she begins to strangle me, she rants, "Kill... kill... kill... me."

Unable to control herself, she pleads, "Kill me."

I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry.

My gauntlet consumes a cartridge as my magic powers up, and with the last of my strength, I slam my knee into her stomach, causing her to flinch and release my throat.

As I punch her in the chest, I mutter the name of my spell.

"Divine Buster."

At that moment, a column of light erupts from my gauntlet, blasting a clean hole through her chest.

The LED in her right eye grows dim as she smiles at me. "Thank you... for bringing my nightmare to a close... Subaru."

Review, if you like. For anyone who doesn't get the title, Subaru is sometimes called the Silver Ace.